Campus - 09.06.2022 - 00:00 

Simple course planning with "Biddit"

To make the complicated allocation of courses at the university easier for students, Marc Gruener (MBI) and Micha Brugger (MBI & CEMS) have developed a tool: "Biddit". They explain in the interview, among other things, how they came up with the idea and what it feels like knowing that half of students are already using "Biddit" within such a short space of time. By student reporter Sven Schumann.
Source: HSG Newsroom

9 June 2022. Anyone at the University of St.Gallen who has passed the assessment enjoys greater freedom in designing their studies from the start. When choosing their own subjects, they are inevitably confronted with the bidding process. Over various rounds, points are allocated to courses which the students would like to attend next semester. This bidding process leads to students having to weigh up how many points they think the course is worth. This is fairer than the alternative "first come, first served system" but, due to the greater complexity, it often results in heads spinning. To make this process easier, the two masters students developed the "Biddit" tool last summer. I was able to find out what this is all about in an interview with them:

Hello guys! Let's start at the beginning: What is Biddit?

Marc: As HSG students, we both have personal experience of the bidding process. It is complicated and time consuming to have to gather and assess the necessary information from various sources. Since neither of us were in the mood for it any more, we thought: let's design a tool to make it easy. That's Biddit.

Micha: Exactly! We had experienced the problems first-hand and started to develop a tool around these pain points. It was crucial for us to gather together all information required for the semester scheduling and to present it clearly so that you could put together your timetable and be sure that the courses don't overlap.

When and how did the idea to build Biddit come about?

Micha: We started gathering ideas for projects at the beginning of last year, and built the initial prototypes for them. One of these ideas, which we found very cool and wanted to pursue further was Biddit in the summer of 2021. But the problem at this point in time was that the next bidding was already due to start four weeks later (laughs). But we started anyway.

And how did the four weeks go from the idea to the launch?

Marc: It was really intense! At the time, I still had a full time practical placement. This meant that straight after my working day, I met up with Micha in a call to plan the next steps. We then worked late into the night. In the end, we launched it one week after the start of bidding. (laughs)

Micha: It was definitely a very exciting time, but we also learned a great deal in the process. We both had some programming experience before we started with Biddit, but we had never done web development on this scale. This meant that we also had to teach ourselves various new technologies and programming languages during our work. It was a classic case of learning on the job.

Marc: But this also meant that we repeatedly had to throw work overboard and look for other solutions. But, in software development in particular, our experience tells us it's the best learning strategy.

So you now already have two bidding phases behind you. What feedback did you get?

Micha: We received very positive feedback. But the most visible and impressive feedback is the user numbers: in the first bidding we already had 1500 users. In the second semester, it was already 4500 without us having to do any advertising. This is almost half of all students.

Marc: It was really crazy. There are these two guys who think that bidding should be easier and six months later, half of the university is using it. I have never before designed anything that 4500 people have used.

Micha: Then all of a sudden you see people on the bus or in a lecture with their laptop open and using Biddit. It really is a great feeling.

Screenshot Biddit
Biddit shows the users all relevant information of the chosen courses and whether they overlap. This makes tedious planning on paper or in your own Excel spreadsheets superfluous.

Biddit is free. Did you want to make money out of it?

Micha: We made a conscious decision not to make money with Biddit. Once we saw that it was actually being used, of course we discussed the possibility of monetising it but then we quickly discarded the idea again.

Marc: Of course the HSG student in you then comes out briefly and asks how you can make money with it (laughs). In the end, the goal of Biddit was never to make money out of students, so we left it at that.

Micha: Ultimately, it opened a lot of doors for us and started lots of conversations. The project was therefore really good for us.

So where does the project go from here?

Micha: Our time at HSG will soon be over. But we definitely want Biddit to remain there for students. We are therefore in discussion with the SHSG about how it can be continued there.

Marc: It's very important to us that the offer remains in place to make life a bit easier for students by allowing them to focus on the cool aspects of the bidding process. With the SHSG, the idea of "designed by HSG students for HSG students" would continue. At the same time, we're hoping to inspire other students to get involved in the project, and tackle ideas and implement them, even if they don't have all the answers to begin with.

I'm not surprised that students are excited by the solution. But how has the project been received by the university? It is of course partly a criticism of their own system.

Marc: Very good! When developing Biddit, we also had a lot of support from HSG, e.g. from Prof. Simon Mayer. At the same time, the university is currently developing a new bidding system. We are now part of the project team and are able to contribute what we have learned there. It is very exciting for us because it gives us a completely different insight into the processes.

Micha: All in all, we are extremely satisfied with what our initial idea developed into and of course hope that we have also inspired others to simply implement their ideas. Apart from a few nights' sleep, you have nothing to lose (laughs).

Thanks for the interview!

Sven Schumann studies International Affairs and is currently in his sixth semester.

Image: Marc Gruener (left) and Micha Brugger (right) are both studying for a Master's in Business Innovation at HSG. Their shared enthusiasm for software development is what they have in common. They taught themselves the necessary knowledge through independent studies.